N. Scott Momaday

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N. Scott Momaday
N Scott Momaday George W Bush.jpg
N. Scott Momaday (left) receiving the National Medal of Arts from U.S. president George W. Bush in 2007
Born Navarre Scott Momaday
(1934-02-27) February 27, 1934 (age 82)
Lawton, Oklahoma, United States
Occupation Writer
Nationality Kiowa
Alma mater University of New Mexico (B.A.)
Stanford University (Ph.D.)
Genre Fiction
Literary movement Native American Renaissance
Notable works House Made of Dawn (1969)

Navarre Scott Momaday (born February 27, 1934) — known as N. Scott Momaday — is a Native American author of Kiowa descent. His work House Made of Dawn was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969. Momaday received the National Medal of Arts in 2007 for his work that celebrated and preserved Native American oral and art tradition. He holds 20 honorary degrees from colleges and universities, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Momaday is considered the founding author in what critic Kenneth Lincoln has termed the Native American Renaissance.

House Made of Dawn is considered a classic in Native American Literature.


N. Scott Momaday is the son of writer Mayme Natachee Scott and painter Alfred Morris.

Momaday was born on 27 February 1934 at the Kiowa-Comanche Indian Hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma, South Central United States.

He is enrolled in the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and also has Cherokee ancestry from his mother.

Literary career

Momaday received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1963. Momaday's doctoral thesis, The Complete Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, was published in 1965.

His novel House Made of Dawn led to the breakthrough of Native American literature into the American mainstream after the novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969.

House Made of Dawn was the first novel of the Native American Renaissance, a term coined by literary critic Kenneth Lincoln in the Native American Renaissance.

The work remains a classic of Native American literature.

Academic career

Momaday has taught at the Universities of Stanford, Arizona, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Barbara, and has been a visiting professor at Columbia, Princeton, and in Moscow. At UC Berkeley, he designed the graduate program for Indian Studies.[1]

He was a Visiting Professor at the University of New Mexico during the 2014-15 academic year to teach in the Creative Writing and American Literary Studies Programs in the Department of English. Specializing in poetry and the Native oral tradition, he will teach The Native American Oral Tradition.


  • The Journey of Tai-me (1967), folklore
  • House Made of Dawn (1968), novel
  • The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969) (illustrated by his father, Alfred Momaday), folklore
  • Angle of Geese (1974), poetry chapbook
  • The Gourd Dancer (1976), poetry
  • The Names: A Memoir (1976), memoir
  • The Ancient Child (1989), novel
  • In the Presence of the Sun (1992), stories and poetry
  • The Native Americans: Indian County (1993)
  • The Indolent Boys (Play) Premiered on the Syracuse Stage during the 1993-94 season.[2]
  • Circle of Wonder: A Native American Christmas Story (1994), children's book
  • The Man Made of Words: Essays, Stories, Passages (1997), stories and essays
  • In the Bear's House (1999), mixed media
  • Four Arrows & Magpie: A Kiowa Story (2006), children's book
  • Three Plays: The Indolent Boys, Children of the Sun, and The Moon in Two Windows (2007), plays
  • Again the Far Morning: New and Selected Poems (2011), poetry


In 1969, Momaday won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel "House Made of Dawn" (pulitzer.org).

Momaday was featured in the Ken Burns and Stephen Ives documentary, The West (1996), for his masterful retelling of Kiowa history and legend. He was also featured in PBS documentaries concerning boarding schools, Billy the Kid, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Momaday was honored as the Oklahoma Centennial Poet Laureate[3]

In 1992, Momaday received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas.[4]

In 2000, Momaday received the St. Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates.[5][6]

Awarded a National Medal of Arts in 2007 by President George W. Bush.[7]

Momaday received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Illinois at Chicago on May 9, 2010.

Recent activities

Momaday is the founder of the Rainy Mountain Foundation[8] and Buffalo Trust, a nonprofit organization working to preserve Native American cultures.[9] Momaday, a known watercolor painter, designed and illustrated the book, In the Bear's House.


  • "I sometimes think the contemporary white American is more culturally deprived than the Indian."[10]
  • "I simply kept my goal in mind and persisted. Perseverance is a large part of writing."[10]

See also


  1. ^ "U of Arizona biography". Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ Syracuse Stage 1993-94
  3. ^ Van Deventer, M. J. "Bush adding to poet's honors." Daily Oklahoman. 15 Nov 2007 (retrieved 14 Dec 2009)
  4. ^ List of NWCA Lifetime Achievement Awards, accessed 6 Aug 2010.
  5. ^ Website of St. Louis Literary Award
  6. ^ Saint Louis University Library Associates. "Recipients of the St. Louis Literary Award". Retrieved July 25, 2016. 
  7. ^ President Bush Announces 2007 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal Recipients
  8. ^ "Santa Fe NM 87505 - Tax Exempt Organizations." Tax Exempt World. (retrieved 14 Dec 2009)
  9. ^ Staff, January 2009, "N. Scott Momaday", Smithsonian Q&A, Vol. 39, Issue 10, 25 pgs., retrieved 04-25-2009
  10. ^ a b "N. Scott Momaday, PhD." Academy of Achievement. (retrieved 14 Dec 2009)

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